MSI K8N Diamond Plus nForce4 SLI X16 Motherboard

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Conclusion

Our Conclusion
While MSI got a late start to the nForce4 SLI X16 game, the board they've created is likely our favorite that we've tested thus far. The board is feature packed, has an excellent layout, and a useful bundle of add-ons and extras.

The key element here is cleanliness. MSI's designers have succeeded in creating a board which is both feature packed and still manages to maintain a clean, easy to work with layout. Not only in terms of hardware, but in terms of the BIOS as well, which is chock full of tweaking and overclocking features, yet doesn't overwhelm the user with options, tucking un-necessary options away in their own private menus. The board is overclocker friendly, but also caters to those looking to maintain a silent PC system with their Thermal Cruise modes, which allow for low-noise fan operation without sacrificing high component temperatures.

We applaud MSI's use of a Creative hardware audio controller on this board, even if it may shoot up the board's cost slightly (dedicated Creative cards using this chip cost anywhere from $30-$50). Hardware audio is necessary for discerning gamers, and we love that MSI has expanded upon Creative's original designs, providing front panel audio connectors and native optical/coaxial S/PDIF outputs. We also like the fact that MSI uses PCI Express x1 connectors for their add-on Gigabit Ethernet and RAID controllers, as this allows for better performance and keeps the PCI bus clear for other peripherals.

While we prefer passive cooled chipset components for the silence, MSI's solution doesn't offend us greatly, as the cooling fan allows for a bit more airflow to the graphics card and the noise level is very tolerable. Also, it would have been nice if MSI had utilized one of the Silicon Image SATA ports for eSATA support like other high-end platforms are moving towards. Beyond these two minor issues, not to mention price which hovers around $200 - $220, we're really struggling to find issues with MSI's K8N Diamond Plus motherboard. That's certainly the sign of a solid platform. We're giving the MSI K8N Diamond Plus a strong 9 on the Heat Meter.

  • Superbly Clean Layout and BIOS

  • Dedicated Creative Hardware Audio
  • Dual GigE and Dual SATA-II/300 RAID
  • Effective Fan Control Options
  • Expensive
  • Needs More 3-pin Fan Connectors

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Tags:  MSI, nforce, sli, Motherboard, MS, diamond, x1, force, x16, K8, board, AR, AM, K

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